Strip clubs bring sex trafficking concerns

Strip clubs bring sex trafficking concerns
YAKIMA, Wash. -- Like it or not, Yakima city council passed two ordinances that allow strip clubs in the city.

However, it won't be too easy for a potential owner to open shop. They'll have to get three separate licenses: a business license, an adult entertainment enterprise license and any dancers or entertainers will have to get a special license.

Plus, owners will have to sit through a screening and background check with Yakima Police.

Authorities also say the background check will determine if potential owners have any history with sex or human trafficking or using their business as a front for crime.

The city says if YPD gives a bad referral, that business owner might be denied.

We asked Yakima City Attorney, Mark Kunkler, if the city has the legal right to deny a business owner a license.

“Yes,” Kunkler said. “And actually it's fairly common throughout the state of Washington."

The strip clubs have to stay at least 800 feet away from places like schools, churches and playgrounds.And, they are only allowed to industrial zone areas, which limits them to spots around River Road, South First Street and the airport.

People around town that we talked to have mixed opinions about the adult entertainment, but some of the neighbors we talked to who live in the “OK” zone say they don't want to be the ones who have to have strip clubs in their backyard.

Paul Castro has lived near one of those zones in north Yakima for five years. He told KIMA he thinks it’s unfortunate to live near the zone. He says he worries about the safety of his wife and five children if a strip club opens near him.

Just around the corner, another neighbor agrees.

"This is like a community where all the kids kind of grow up together,” Jessica Pedricco said.

Even though the city may give its approval, Paul says-- even after living in his home for 5 years--he'll pack up if a strip club opens near him.

"That would actually cause me to move; me to move my family,” Paul said. “I wouldn't want to be next to a business like that."